Nature Mysticism



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('The World' p. 89-90)

In the following extract from 'Walking' Traherne has commented on men that move like 'statues dead' who neither see nor love, and quite miss the beauty of Nature:


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To note the beauty of the day,
And golden fields of corn survey;
Admire the pretty flowers
With their sweet smell;
To celebrate their Maker, and to tell
The marks of His great powers.

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To fly abroad like active bees,


Among the hedges and the trees,
To cull the dew that lies
On every blade,
From every blossom; till we lade
Our minds, as they their thighs.
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Observe those rich and glorious things,
The rivers, meadows, woods, and springs,
The fructifying sun;
To note from far
The rising of each twinkling star
For us his race is run.
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A little child these well perceives,
Who, tumbling among grass and leaves,
May rich as kings be thought;
But there's a sight
Which perfect manhood may delight,
To which we shall be brought.
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While in those pleasant paths we talk
'Tis that toward which at last we walk;
But that we may by degrees
Wisely proceed
Pleasures of love and praise to heed,
From viewing herbs and trees.


(p. 136-137)
Traherne presents us here with an analogy with bees, and suggests that we can cull the beauty of Nature for our minds as they do 'nectar on their thighs'. He introduces the child again, but finishes by pointing out that Nature takes one in 'perfect manhood', by degrees, to something higher, not clearly spelled out but to do with love.
As these extracts show, Traherne is not particularly interested in the detail or workings of Nature's abundance, the kind that we might find in the 19th century writers such as Jefferies, Thoreau, Muir, Burroughs or Whitman. What he does contribute to our understanding of Nature Mysticism must surely lie in his conviction, firstly that we are blessed through our senses with the enjoyment of the natural world, and secondly that in a deeply intimate way we 'own' it. References to the infinite and the eternal are found in abundance in his Meditations, but Nature is not the primary route to them, as with Jefferies and Krishnamurti, but more a stage within which to express enjoyment of the senses as a right or even a duty to the Creator. This last passage repeats some of these themes in inimitable Traherne fashion:
By the very right of your senses you enjoy the world. Is not the beauty of the hemisphere present to your eye? Doth not the glory of the sun pay tribute to your sight? Is not the vision of the world an amiable thing? Do not the stars shed influences to perfect the air? Is not that a marvellous body to breathe in? To visit the lungs: repair the spirits: revive the senses: cool the blood: fill the empty spaces between the earth and heavens; and yet give liberty to all objects? Prize these first: and you shall enjoy the residue. (p. 194)





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